Imágenes de páginas


were enthusiasts merely, it is to be supposed they would be enthusiasts according to their old notions, and that a little of that suffering and persecution, to which they were soon exposed, would cure them of their madness. But the most pusillanimous of men are converted into the most bold and intrepid; the most ambitious and worldly, into the most spiritual, disinterested and faithful. They maintain, through the greatest sufferings-sufferings, such as they once could not think of with patience

-a faith, which has stood to the present hour, and will stand, I trust, till the heavens be no more.

This change, then, in the character of Peter and the disciples, let the infidel account for, if he can, without admitting that fact, wbich is the basis of our religion. If the fall of Peter lends any confirmation to the truly miraculous nature and propagation of our religion, he did not fall in vain.

We have learned something, then, from Peter's history, in aid of our faith. It also affords instructions of a practical nature. It gives us all a lesson of resolution and vigilance, lest we, too, fall from our steadfastness. Let no christian say, that he can never be precisely in Peter's situation, and, therefore, that he can never deny a master, who is no longer present with his followers. We deny bim, christians, when we suppress our secret convictions of the truth of his gospel, and would make the world believe, that we know not the man. We deny him, when we attempt to shake off the restraints of his laws, or bend them to a more convenient standard; or when we take pains to hide the few peculiarities, which our christian education, or profession of the gospel, yet oblige us to retain. We deny bim, when, like Peter, we mingle with the vicious and the base, en-, dure the jests of the scorner, and the licentiousness of the man of pleasure, and, lest we should be sus


pected of rigour, or of superstition, choose not to be distinguished from the promiscuous multitude of worldly men, who know not their God and their Redeemer. No, it is not impossible to deny our master, nor is it easy to be always true to his cause.

It seems, indeed, to be no difficult task, to be a christian, when the religion is creditable, when respect attends upon its institutions, and men throng to the temples, and the profession of christianity leads to public honours. But, my bearers, to say nothing of the struggles, which every disciple of Jesus has to maintain with the corruptions of his own heart, a man must not expect to be a christian, even in the best of times, without suffering some reproach from being true to his christian principles. The standard of the world is low and variable; but the everlasting laws of christian purity, piety and benevolence are not affected by any changes of manners, or fluctuations of opinion. The gospel stands, in the midst of the tide of fashions and fancies, the measure of all opinions, but regulated by

He, who would be faithful to this religion, cannot pass through the world, without being tempted by the example of others, tried by many severe duties, reproached by some, whom be wishes to love, and neglected by others, whom a little sacrifice of his principles might retain in his favour. Let him, then, be vigilant and resolute.

Again, the fall of Peler teaches a lesson of humilily. If there are any presumptuous and entbusiastic christians among us, they may learn from this history, that they are not the most secure. Excessive confidence in religion is bardly to be distinguished from arrogance. It is never the means, and seldom the consequence of a religious life. . Let us not trust, then, too much, to any temporary excitements in religion; and auch less think ourselves secure, because we have made a competent




profession of our faith. Let us remember, too, that no man is allowed to make wanton trial of bis faith and virtue. A man may be justly left to be overcome by a trial, which be bas presumptuously sought, when he might have triumphed over a temptation, and stood a test, which was presented to him in the ordinary course of Providence. The spirit of the christian life is, indeed, a spirit of power and fortitude ; but it is always joined with humility, distrust of one's self, bumble estimation of our own powers, and deep sensibility to the infirmity of buman virtue. The daily prayer of the christian is : Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Let him, who thinketh, he standeth, take heed, lest be fall.

Again, we learn from the history of Peter, that, though a good man may fall, he is yet distinguished by tenderness of conscience, and deep and severe contrition. Peter went out, and wept bitterly, and returned to his master. The habitual offender may regret bis sins, because he retains a lurking fear of their consequences. But the good man suffers, because he feels the shame and ingratitude of his offences. He feels a stain, as he would a wound, though the world may not have discerned the blemish; he hopes for pardon, but does not cease to


To conclude, do not flatter yourselves, because Peter fell, and instantly recovered, that be, who is every day sinking, and falling from his fidelity, is to be as easily recovered. Contrition may purge away the occasional lapses of a man, who lives the life of a disciple ; but it is difficult to conceive, how the effects of a depraved life, the example of which has been extending and operating in every direction, are to be expiated or removed by a dying hour of fear and sorrow, however deep, however painful. Watch, therefore, and pray, that ye fall not into templation.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]




He subject, upon which I am about to address you, my friends, needs no laboured introduction. I see before me the fathers and motbers of families, who must, ere long, resign the world to another generation; a generation, which will remember them with fruitless reproaches, or everlasting gratitude. There are among us thousands of young creatures, whom our schools and colleges and families are pouring into the world; and I ask, with anxiety, who is responsible to the God of nature, and to the world, for these daily and bourly accessions to the numbers of society ? Life, surely, is not all, that you are to give them ; support, protection, accomplishments and estates are not all, that you owe to these creatures of your affection. For the time is coming, when all these exterior appendages to life will be heard of no more; the grave will receive your children, as it has their fathers; the accomplishments, with which you decorate them, will have fallen off, and withered in death; even the strong constitution of their bodies will have crumbled away in the tomb; the possessions, wbich they have inherited, will bave shrunk into the narrow inclosure of a coffin. And is there nothing more? Surely, I see them existing anew in anotber state, wbither they have carried, from this world, the character of their souls. And what is this, and whence came it? It bears your stamp; it proclaims your care, or your neglect; and, in their destination, you may' read something of your own.

Faibers, says the apostle in my text, bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. This, surely, can be interpreted as nothing less, than a precept for the religious education of those, who are committed to your care.

It shall be my present object, then, with God's blessing, 10 offer you some considerations on this interesting subject; to show you, how you may previously secure the greatest weight to your lessons ; 10 guard you against some of the most common faults in this branch of education; and to point out some of the most suitable topics and modes of instruction. These are the three divisions of our subject. I. 1. If, then, parents, you would train your chil

. dren up to be religious beings, and give the greatest weight to your instructions, the first preliminary undoubtedly is, that they should have the highest respect for your characters, entire confidence in your knowledge, and an affectionate sense of your regard for their everlasting good. To any species of education this is an important preliminary ; but, 10 a christian education, it is indispensable. This early deference to the character of the parent, it is, perhaps, the more necessary to inculcate, as the progress of manners and opinions, for many years past, has tended much to reduce it. If you would preserve in the minds of your offspring this permanent confidence and respect, they must early be sensible of a control, easy and equable, impartial and systematic. You must not fluctuate in your rules, or coun

« AnteriorContinuar »